Call for papers

Call for papers – Special issue of the South African Journal of  Childhood Education

Reducing inequalities in and through literacy in the early years of schooling

Guest editors: Lilli Pretorius (University of South Africa) and Sarah Murray (Rhodes University)


First drafts due: 30 March 2018 [online submission on journal website]
Review outcomes: 15 May 2018 
Revised manuscripts due: 15 July 2018
Notification of final decisions: 30 August 2018 
Approximate publication: November 2018


In the 21st century reading matters, and it matters fundamentally at an individual cognitive level as well as at a socio-affective and economic level. If children don’t learn to read successfully within the first three years of schooling, their chances of catching up later are minimal. Not being able to read well also affects subsequent academic performance across subjects and grades, feelings of self-efficacy and identity and, ultimately, security in the job market.


Despite curriculum changes and attention to improving literacy in the primary school years by education systems, donor agencies, NPOs and other educational stakeholders in the past decade, literacy levels in developing countries remain low, in both home language and First Additional Languages. Inequalities in reading set in early and tend to be tenacious. Why are so many children within the education system not learning to read properly? Why does so much investment of time and money seem to yield so little return in terms of reading outcomes?


The aim of this special issue is to move the field of research on early reading instruction in low-income, multilingual contexts forward, by examining more closely and rigorously the interplay of home, community, school, classroom, teacher, learner, language and resource factors in early literacy development. Issues that have been identified as critical in discussions around improved literacy levels include:

  • time spent on meaningful reading activities in and outside the classroom; 
  • resources available for reading in all the languages;
  • the role of language and vocabulary in reading development; 
  • teacher knowledge and skills required for quality reading instruction; 
  • reading instructional methods that are sensitive to different languages and orthographies; 
  • in-service and preservice training of teachers as readers and reading teachers; and
  • early and effective reading assessment and remediation.


Other issues that require critical investigation include reading benchmarks in local languages, the relationship between reading and numeracy development, parental involvement in literacy development, and effective instructional practices that can mitigate the effects of poverty on literacy performance.


We invite a broad range of evidence-driven articles dealing with issues such as these, which are relevant to reducing inequalities in and through literacy in developing countries.


For more information please contact the guest editors: Lilli Pretorius ( or Sarah Murray (